17 February 2017

Media Review - BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces

BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar - Britain's Great Palaces
BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar - Britain's Great Palaces
BBC4 - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces (2015)

Original Air Date - 2 July 2014
Series - Majesty & Mortar

Duration - 59:25 minutes

Director - Graham  Cooper
Host - Dan Cruickshank

Last January, a friend in England informed me that BBC4, Majesty & Mortar had aired a piece which included a reference to Josef Jakobs.

It's taken me a while to track down the reference. Naturally, the episode is not available in North America, nor it appears, in the U.K.

I did have a more intense snoop around the internet and came across the Daily Motion website which appears to have the entire episode available for viewing, at least here in North America. Not sure how long that will remain the case, given copyright law but... for what it's worth, you can go to this link and see the episode in its entirety.

If you'd rather skip ahead to the section on Josef Jakobs, fast forward to the 28 minute mark. The piece runs from about 28:15 to 31:51.

Summary
Dan Cruickshank, the host, gives a bit of an intro into the role of the Tower during WW1 and WW2.

"But in WW2, the Tower was shut to the public, the moat converted into allotments and the Crown Jewels whisked away to a secret location. Captured U-boat crews were imprisoned in the Salt Tower. And Hitler's Deputy, Rudolf Hess was held in the Tower in May 1941. It was also the last home to Josef Jakobs, a German spy."

"This is the chair on which Jakobs was sat for his execution. He was executed at 7:12 in the morning on the 15 of August, 1941 in the East Casement firing range here in the Tower. So nearly seven months after his capture. A long time for him to brood, to hope."

Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank with the chair upon which Josef Jakobs faced the firing squad on 15 August 1941. - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors
Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank with the chair upon which Josef Jakobs
faced the firing squad on 15 August 1941.
Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors

"He was shot using rifles like this, a short magazine Lee Enfield, a standard Army issue weapon, firing a .303 round, a large round. The body would have been almost torn apart, I suppose. There were eight hits, seven to the heart, one to the head, the heart being the main target."
Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank holding a Lee Enfield rifle, similar to that which would have been used at the execution of Josef Jakobs on 15 August 1941. - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors
Screenshot of Dan Cruickshank holding a Lee Enfield rifle, similar to that
which would have been used at the execution of Josef Jakobs on 15 August 1941.
Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors

"The chair says it all, doesn't it, the back and the spindles torn away. Jakobs sitting here, his heart would have been just in front of this area, just here... the bullets going through... phew.. golly. His execution marked the end of a chapter in the history of the Tower of London. It was the last execution to take place here."
Screenshot of the chair in which Josef Jakobs was executed on 15 August 1941. - Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors
Screenshot of the chair in which Josef Jakobs was executed on 15 August 1941.
Majesty & Mortar: Britain's Great Palaces - Opening the Palace Doors

Review
This piece is a bit different than some of the others in that they actually get the chair out from its glass case. It does pander a bit to the macabre aspects of Josef's execution but not in an offensive way.

There are a few factual errors. Josef was never housed within the Tower, but arrived there from Wandsworth Prison at about 5:30 am on the morning of 15 August, 1941. So, not quite accurate to say that it was his "last home". There was at least one blank round issued to the firing squad, so unlikely to be seven hits to the heart.

Review Score
4 out of 5 - interesting to see the chair out of the glass case.

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